Poker is a fascinating game. You can learn to play in minutes, but you won’t win. Like most things, you can understand the basics from books, but the only way to really get better is to play — and play a lot. Perhaps this is why poker players have the reputation of being degenerates. Long hours in smoky rooms with shady people, illicit behavior, and all that. The truth is that good poker players — not just gamblers, mind you, but good players — are smart, patient, and cunning. The game requires subtlety and finesse…And even with that, you still might lose. It’s not a game for dummies.
I take my experiences playing poker as quite revealing. When I first started, three hours playing seemed like an eternity, always on edge, getting a headache from it all. But quickly you start to abstract the money…You play the cards and let them beat you — you’re not beaten by the intimidation of losing. Suddenly it becomes a ritual…You start to learn the code, crack the combination and win. And when you’re winning the hours fly by.
With time, you start to see a flow to things. Each hand is a series of little quirky factors…The money involved, who you’re playing, the cards you have. It’s not a purely mechanical endeavor, though some people make it that way. I once played a tournament with a bunch of engineers for charity and it was so ridiculously frustrating. Like playing cards with robots. I wondered how cool they would have been if real money was involved…
The game’s charm is that each hand is irreducible, a true human moment…Full of unknowns. It’s the hands that defy the odds that really make the game. The unpredictable moments and turning points. And then, of course, there’s losing. It’s important to learn to lose well too, after all. Helps you in life, I think, to not sweat the small stuff.
Like they say, sometimes it’s just not in the cards.